It's my life...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Home Alone

Danny’s pretty bad, not eating or drinking much, just lying there on the settee under the duvet. I’ve been here all the time trying not to speak much cos that annoys him, just being around in case he needs me. It’s worse at night when he’s alone. Last night I found him on the floor after his shouts woke me up but couldn’t see him at first. He was behind the chair curled like a baby inside its mother, hands over his ears, yelling stuff I can’t write here. He won’t let me near when he’s like that. I’m trying to get the omega 3 into everything he eats or drinks and he hasn’t noticed so far but I think he needs more – some stronger stuff. And I don’t know how long I can manage alone. Sooner or later the food’ll run out and I’ll have to leave him.

Found myself looking up the number of the hospital after the last attack. Would I have the nerve to ring them? I don’t know. I’ve wanted him to myself for so long and I’ve got him now as Marz still hasn’t come back, but I’m worried about her too. Where the hell has she got to? She’s never been gone this long before – suppose some bloke has murdered her? When will I have to ring the police and report her missing? And Danny’s moaning again…

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Danny came back at half past eleven Christmas night – alone. Told me in a couple of words that Marz had gone off with some bloke then wrapped himself in the spare duvet and went to sleep on the settee. I watched TV for a while longer then went to bed but a few hours later woke up to all this shouting and yelling. Thought for a minute Marz had come home but it was Danny, his old trouble back again. I flew in there, tried to hold him but he fought me off like a bloody devil calling me some name I didn’t recognise. I kept saying all quiet and firm, ‘Danny, it’s Jazz, it’s Jazz,’ but it was as if he didn’t hear me and I had to back off or get hurt. I didn’t know what the hell to do, just had to watch him screaming and tearing at his face, then suddenly he seemed to see me and curled up, started to cry.

I went to him then, put my arms around him, stroked his hair. It’s the closest we’ve ever ever been and it felt so good. But it’s not the way I wanted it to be. I knew this would happen if he didn’t keep taking the medication and the omega 3, went back to drinking, taking stuff.

Boxing Day he slept on and off all day, exhausted. I was pretty shattered myself after the busy week and everything, mostly watched TV, got us some food. He’s been OK since tho.Now I’m worried about Marz. Tuesday evening and she’s still not back.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas?

Well, Christmas day and here I am all on my own. Marz and Danny were off out last night just as I got in and I haven’t seen them since. I’m almost tempted to go down the Day Centre and hang out there except I’d be bound to see Pete and I don’t need that sort of aggravation.

I could walk along to see Tapan and Binita – I wouldn’t be intruding as I don’t s’pose they’ll be celebrating Christmas – but even tho I like them a lot they’re not family and that’s what I need right now, even if all the family I have is an old slapper who hits the bottle. I don’t count Danny as family, tho I did once – that’s out the window. And the job’s finished – Adrian says he’ll be cleared out by New Year – so I’ll have to decide what I’m going to do, carry on at college or get something more permanent. I could try to catch up with the course reading I s’pose but I’m not in the mood.

Spent this morning photographing the dolls – arranged them around the table, laid it with plates, a single bubble gum ball on each one, tinsel and a tiny Christmas tree Adrian gave me in the centre of the table. Nicely surreal. If I didn’t know that Marz is bloody indestructible I’d be worried now. I wonder where they’ve gone? Maybe I’ll watch some TV till they get back.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

In the Dark

I was late out of work tonight. Adrian was locking up when I left and the street seemed empty but when I turned into the passage I thought I heard footsteps behind me. For a second I wondered if he’d followed me, then remembered Pete. I walked the quieter streets with pricked ears, turning once or twice to catch him out but saw nothing, thought I must be cracking up. I was still spooked when I got to Naidoo’s so I dodged in and sidled around the shelves. I stayed awhile pretending to decide what to buy until Mr Naidoo, whose name is Tapan, made me go into the back to see Binita. We were drinking char and eating more of the little yellow cakes when he came back.

‘Jazz,’ he said, ‘is it possible that you are being followed?’

I jumped half out of my skin – I’d forgotten Pete what with the char and everything. I told him about the feeling I’d had on the way there and about Pete, and Tapan asked me what he looked like.

‘That’s him precisely,’ he said when I’d described the big old coat and the cowboy hat. ‘He’s just across the road in the doorway of the empty house. Shall I telephone the police?’

I said no, thinking maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea what with Marz and Danny both on their books, so Tapan had a think and then lit up like a light bulb.

‘I have just this moment thought of a plan,’ he smiled. He spoke to Binita in Hindi as she doesn’t understand much English and she smiled too and beckoned me, took me by the hand.

I was totally in the dark as we went up the stairs and wondered what the hell I’d got myself into when she gestured for me to take off my puffy jacket and then began to undo my pink top with her long fingers. She had to open her wardrobe, show me all her saris hanging there like the wings of tropical birds and make all sorts of signs before I finally caught on.

Fifteen minutes later Tapan walked me home. We could just see Pete in the shadows by the front door of the empty house as we left the shop, unmistakable in the big coat and the cowboy hat. I was wearing one of Binita’s saris and her spare winter coat, her black gloves. She’d darkened my face with charcoal from one of the barbeque sets and covered my pale hair with a black scarf, draped the end of the sari over my head. I almost laughed aloud tripping along the cold pavement in her little heels, my trainers and other stuff in a plastic bag. It had been fun getting dressed up. Binita showed me how to pleat the sari through your fingers, how to tuck it in to the underskirt so it didn’t slip.

Tapan made sure I got in okay then went back to Binita. Marz nearly had a fit when she saw me, and I got more attention from Danny than I have since I brought him home. Maybe he likes this look. I could wear a sari sometimes, darken my face. It might be interesting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Lull before the Storm?

Marz is being nice to me, giving me money to buy food, sometimes even shopping and cooking so there’s something ready when I get home. Trouble is, she tries to make me eat too much, watches every mouthful. And it’s unnerving – part of me likes this almost normal Marz but the other part (the bigger one) knows she’s going to blow eventually and just wants to get it over and done with. If I didn’t know her better I’d say maybe she’s feeling guilty about filching Danny, not that he was ever really mine. Danny himself’s much the same as the Danny I knew at Middleton once I’d let him know how I felt about him. He doesn’t speak much, mostly ignores me, comes and goes. I told him about Pete, asked how he knew.

‘That guy in the trench coat? Yeah,’ he said, ‘met him at the Day Centre. His girlfriend’s crazy.’

‘Why d’you go to the Day Centre?’ I asked him, ‘and how did he know who you were?’

‘I get hungry,’ says Danny, and there’s not always food here. They give you a free meal. Don’t keep asking me stuff, Jazz, you know it does my head in.’

So I just handed him the omega 3 caps I’d bought in my lunchbreak, not a word, and went to my room.

I’ve been thinking too. Maybe I won’t go back to college. Maybe I’ll just get a job in a shop or something – Hennes, maybe even Monsoon, somewhere I can get stuff at a discount. Let’s get Christmas over first tho.

I’ve bought Danny a sweatshirt, got Marz a bottle of Poison from some guy selling them on the street. She’ll never know the difference.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


My mobile went off at work today. Lucky I was in the loo or I’d have had to switch it off without answering. Or maybe not. It was that guy Pete from the Day Centre.

‘Hi Jazz,’ he says, as if he’s some kind of a friend or something, ‘It’s Pete.’

‘Pete who?’ I said, even tho I’d have known that cracked up voice anywhere.

‘Pete, Pete who got you soup,’ he says, ‘and guess what? I think I know where you can find that Danny guy of yours.’

I hang up. He’s got nothing I want and that girlfriend of his is crazy – she’s on some poison I’d say. The next thing I know there he is looking through the shop window at me, same old trenchcoat but the knitted hat has gone and it’s a black cowboy hat tilted over one eye and a grin like a bloody pirate. I wave him away but he comes right on in.

‘We musta got cut off,’ he says, ‘that’s unless you hung up on me. You wouldn’t do that Jazz, would you?’

‘Too right I would,’ I say, ‘please fuck off.’

‘That’s a nice way to talk to an old friend,’ he says. ‘Don’t you want to know where to find your boyfriend?’

‘I’ve already found him,’ I said. ‘Anyway, how did you know I was here?’

He grins again, tho maybe it’s more of a leer, teeth lost either side, all that’s missing a black patch over one eye and a gold earring.

‘I’ve been keeping an eye on you,’ he says, ‘not much goes on without ole Pete knowing.’

Lucky for me Adrian, the manager comes over just then, asks if he can help and bloody Pete fucks off. ‘Keep in touch,’ he says, winking.

I half expected to find him waiting for me when I finished tonight, but thank the stars and stripes he wasn’t. I hope he doesn’t know where I live – he can’t do or he wouldn’t have thought I’d want to know where Danny is. Less than a week to go now. I’ll be sorry to lose this job. I like wrapping things, making them mysterious and pretty.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Better or Worse?

I left for work before she was up this morning. The settee was empty – no Danny – I s’pose he was in with the old woman. I still had his key so unless she got the lock changed again I knew I’d be OK after work. Still, Marz is predictably unpredictable, especially when she’s on the hard stuff, so you can never really tell what sort of mood she’s going to be in. She could just as easily have forgotten about the locks as be waiting to spring on me with her claws out.

It’s funny, I still care about Danny and what happens to him but sleeping with Marz has wrecked the other feelings and just left a sort of desolation. I don’t know how I feel about her – maybe deadened – I’m not sure.

Called in on the Naidoos on the way home, bought fish fingers and oven chips, oranges for vitamin C. Binita made me char and fed me Indian snacks – samoosas, bhjajis and something called dal mooth. I stayed for ages, nibbling away like a starved rabbit, putting off the moment of truth I s’pose. Felt sick when I got outside.

Marz hadn’t locked me out tho. The key turned in the door and there was Danny watching TV and the smell of Spaghetti Bolognese escaping from the kitchen. I can’t remember when she last cooked anything decent.

‘Dinner in ten minutes, Jazz, OK?’ she yelled over the sound of White Christmas.

But I couldn’t face it. Just made it to the loo in time, lost all those spicy things down the pan.

Saturday Shut Out

I got home from work to find my key didn’t fit. She’s only had the locks changed. I stood there banging on the door and yelling until Mrs Barnes came down from the top flat, but there was nothing she could do to help, although she did offer to make me a cup of tea before fading slowly upstairs again. I sat in the passage and waited thinking someone would have to come back soon, then I’d get in, but it was half eleven before Danny turned up alone. At least he had the decency to look ashamed.

Why did you do it, Danny?’ I asked.

‘Nothing to do with me,’ he said, ‘and anyway she’s pretty set against you at the moment – what could I do? You shouldn’t have pulled her onto the floor like that.’

‘That’s not what I meant,’ I said, ‘and anyway, did she look bothered? Why did you get involved with her? I don’t get it.’

‘That’s just it,’ he said, I’m not involved. She doesn’t want anything from me,no demands, no complications. She says I can come and go, fuck off when I like, I don’t have to love her.’

I was feeling sick again. ‘Just give me your key,’ I said, and he did. I went to my room, locked the door. Marz isn’t going to turn me out so easily. It’s cold out there tonight.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Incendiary, that’s what today’s been. I must have fallen asleep in the end because I didn’t hear Marz come in. I got up and went to make a cup of tea, checked her room on the way. She wasn’t there. Imagined her in some bloke’s bed somewhere in this crazy town – she could be dead for all I knew. How to get yourself murdered – go with anyone who wants it. I shut her door – she doesn’t like me looking in her room. Then I saw the clothes through the sitting room door. Just dropped on the floor as bloody usual. I sort of knew what I’d find then, but somewhere a little bit of hope stayed breathing. Not for long tho. There they were tangled up on the settee, her and Danny and the smell of cheap brandy and weed. God, she looks rough when she’s asleep. I just stood there for a moment, then shot across the floor and grabbed her by the hair, called her a slut and a slapper and a frigging whore, and other things I can’t put here and pulled her off him onto the carpet hanging onto the duvet off her bed. She just lay there laughing, one tit out. She must really hate me. Danny was awake by then. I turned on him, asked him how he could stomach doing it with someone old enough to be his mother, then remembered the crazy woman and thought well, he must just fancy old women or else he hates me too and knows what’d hurt more than almost anything.

‘I told you you and me were never going to get together,’ he said, all quiet and compelling like he was trying to hypnotise me.

‘Yeah, but you didn’t have to screw my mother,’ I told him. ‘Maybe she jumped you, I don’t know, it’s the sort of trick she’d pull on someone, but you couldn’t have done it if you hadn’t wanted to.’

He just looked at me, sad-like. ‘Sometimes a warm body is what you need,’ he said, ‘someone to hold you.’

‘I’d have held you, Danny,’ I said. Then the bitch chips in.

‘Jazz, dear,’ she says, all poisoned honey, ‘it’s time you cottoned on that a man likes something to grab hold of, a nice cushiony pair to rest his head on. Look at you – you’re all knees and elbows and sticking out hips – not a booby in sight, soft or otherwise – isn’t that right Danny?’

I didn’t wait to hear what he said. I ran off to my room, got dressed and left them to it, got to Secrets early and couldn’t get in, stood in the doorway looking at all that Christmas stuff and wanting to cry again. I can’t go on like this.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Marz and Danny are as thick as toffee. It makes me ill to go out and leave the pair of them knowing what I’ll find when I get back. Danny doesn’t say much – neither of them does come to that – but it’s as if she’s his best friend or his sister or something, even tho she’s a good fifteen years older than him. I hate her. I don’t think Danny has been out since I brought him home, but she must have been buying food cos they were eating fish and chips when I got home. Fish is good – those omega oils – are they in white fish? I can’t remember. Afterwards she got all slappered up in her tight black skirt and silver top and went out on the pull and I sat down next to Danny on the settee.

I tried to be careful as I didn’t want to annoy him or scare him off.

‘What now, Danny,’ I said, and he looked at me with those black eyes of his, head on one side and the light from the lamp shining through his hair.

‘Chill out,’ was all he said. I’m not whether he meant I should or he was going to, but I didn’t ask just in case, tho he seemed pretty relaxed. I looked at his hand resting on his knee, wanted to touch those long fingers, slide my hand underneath them, but I didn’t. Went and made us some coffee instead. When I got back he was asleep so I covered him with the blanket and went to bed. I lay in bed with the poor little brain chasing its tail, not a chance of sleeping, so I got up and here I am. Another day wrapping tomorrow. I like it tho – all those shiny papers and ribbons, taking care with measuring, making a good job of it. One man gave me a quid tip, said I was a artist. Having to concentrate is restful – no time to think of other things – yet I’m always tired at six when the shop shuts.

Maybe I’ll read in bed till I hear Marz come in.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas Cheer

I took a chance and went in yesterday, but on the way there changed my mind and walked through town, thought maybe I could find a job in the run up to Christmas. I won’t miss too much at college and can maybe catch up next term.

Some sort of feeding frenzy going on, even that early in the morning with over a week to go, people shopping as if when this lot’s sold out there’ll be no more stuff in the shops – ever. It took a couple of hours but I did it – got a job wrapping pressies in a gift shop – one of those that appear a few weeks before and disappear on Christmas morning – Christmas Secrets it was called. The girl they hired last week had let them down and things were hectic. Spent the rest of the day wrapping after a short training period to get the hang of things, came away with cash in hand. Not bad either.

Then I’m walking along this empty street past these homes all got up with lights and reindeer and santas, flashing trees and carols playing and god knows what and thinking how sinister they look, like gingerbread houses to lure children in and wondering what I’m going to find when I get back.

And suddenly I’m shattered and hoping Marz has got some food in and that Danny hasn’t legged it. And then I’m there and it’s almost worse than if he has ‘cos the place stinks and there’s Marz and Danny sprawled on the settee passing a spliff one to the other and drinking vodka and I’m screaming ‘Danny, what the bloody hell are you doing with that stuff when it’s what made you ill?’ and turning on Marz and giving her a mouthful. And she’s saying that if I’m going to have men in my room the least I could do is to introduce them to her first as it’s only polite to do so.

So I go off and have a cry but no one comes in to see how I am so after a while I get up and go out and get some food at Mr Naidoo’s as Marz probably had something before she came home but I know they’ll both be hungry soon. And I’m wondering whose stuff it is and thinking the pair of them are hopeless and Danny’ll be hearing voices again at this rate and what the hell am I going to do.

Mr Naidoo notices straight away. ‘You’ve been crying,’ he says, and I ask how he knows and he says that I look like a panda as all my mascara has smudged, and he makes me come into the back and sit down and Binita gives me char and little cakes.

That was yesterday. Wrapping again today and Danny and Marz stoned when I got home. I’m so tired.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I’m typing this on my laptop in the sitting room. Danny’s asleep in my bed – been there all afternoon. So yeah, he did come home with me (dossed down on my bedroom floor), but I’d have been happier if he’d been just a tiny bit pleased to see me. He’d been sleeping at Middleton and gone out to find some food, come back and heard me calling in the house and was on his way off out again. I told him I’d been looking for him and worried sick but all he said was that I’d no right to worry about about him as we’re not getting together, not ever and I’m saying ‘Why not, Danny, why not, everyone needs someone and I could help you get better – the omega oils were doing you good till things went wrong,’ and he’s saying that I’m not his type and just a kid and what the hell do I want all these dolls for anyway? and don’t bother answering as he doesn’t feel like talking. And I’m saying that we’ve got to talk and sort things out and I’m not asking to sleep with him or anything but we’ll have to sleep in my room or Marz’ll know something’s up. I’m not going to tell her Danny’s here – she’d only go mental. I’ve put the DO NOT DISTURB sign up that I filched from Pia at Middleton so if he’s here alone Marz won’t go in or bother him long as he’s quiet. She sleeps in the day anyway and she’ll think it’s just me in there. Now I’m wondering whether I dare to leave him and go to college or if it’s best to stay home. I was at home all day today hoping he’d talk to me, make a plan, but he was like Zippy with the zip closed. I’ll let him sleep now. Maybe things’ll be better tomorrow.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


I’m half wasted today. Yesterday nearly did my head in. I caught the train to Kingston and wandered along to Middleton, not expecting to find anything – it just seemed a good place to start. Wasn’t too bad either until the crazy woman turned up and spoiled things.Weird to see it boarded up like that when just a month or so ago it was home of a sort. I tried to ring Sandy but all I got was her answer machine. Bloody hell, I thought, I’ve come all this way for nothing. Then I got some sort of odd craving to see inside, snooped all the way round the outside and KEEP OUT stuck up everywhere before finding a gap in the wire (lucky I’m not too fat) and getting close, trying to see through the cracks in the boards covering the windows. I was thinking that if the builders were meant to be coming as Sandy said, no one would mind too much if I broke in, then I thought, why should I care if they did? Being Saturday of course, no one was working on it. Then this feeling crept over me that Danny was inside. Told myself, YOU WISH, but all the same once you’ve had a thought like that it’s hard to let it go. I just had to get in then, didn’t I? Went round the back where I couldn’t be overlooked and tried to find a hammer or some tool to use as a lever, but not a bloody thing. Then I remembered the window of the upstairs loo that doesn’t shut properly and thought if I could find something to stand on I might be able to get up onto that bit of flattish roof, slip my hand in and open it. No ladder, not even an old table or chair. I was just thinking of leaving when I tried the handle of the back door and – straight up – it opened! I slipped inside easy as a double vodka over Marz tongue and shut the door behind me, stood there in the dim and quiet, listening, remembering when the house had been alive. Ted’s old sax smooching down the passage, Eva singing in the kitchen and the smell of soul food, the TV on downstairs and maybe Danny’s Eminem CD jumping.
Now I was in it didn’t feel as though Danny was around. I walked through the rooms just to make sure tho. Everything was gone – all bare floorboards and echoes. I called out Danny’s name just to hear it, to imagine him answering, then got sick and ran downstairs again. I was halfway out the door when I saw him, folding his long body through the gap in the wire. I screamed out and he turned for a second which was just enough time for me to leg it across the grass and grab his jumper.
‘Danny, Danny, I’ve been looking everywhere for you,’ I almost yelled. ‘I’ve been so worried and here you are trying to get away from me and I just want to help,’ and Danny’s saying, ‘It’s no good Jazz,’ and his look is killing me and ‘I’m not going back to the hospital.’ And I’m still holding onto his jumper but he’s back in the garden now and standing looking at me and I’m thinking that I can’t let him get away again now I’ve found him.
‘You know I wouldn’t dob you in,’ I’m saying, and he’s saying ‘Yeah,’ you’re the one who kept on at me to keep taking the tablets and I told you I didn’t want to,’ and I’m saying, ‘OK, OK, Danny, whatever you want, only come home with me now and we’ll talk about what to do, you can’t stay here.’

Friday, December 09, 2005


Danny’s been missing almost a week now and no news. Mr Naidoo cashed the cheque for me and I went shopping after college to cheer myself up. It’s sweet the way he tries to feed me whenever I buy things there; today he nipped into the back room to get a samoosa his wife had just deep fried – ‘Taste it now, eat it all and tell me what you think…’ and ‘I want to know if people would buy these if I put a few in the shop.’ It’s as if he doesn’t trust me to eat the stuff I buy for me and Marz. Mind you, he’s more expensive than the Co-op, but open nearly all the time. Not much of a life but he doesn’t seem to mind. His wife’s name is Binita and he made her come out to say hello but she doesn’t speak much English and seemed very shy. Her sari was exactly the same shade of orange as the tray of mandarins in the vegetable display.

I was in Etam looking at some pink jeans when the idea hit me. I must still have Sandy’s number somewhere, or if not I could probably get it from Social Services. Danny may have contacted her to try and find that crazy woman he thought could help him – he won’t know she’s gone to Oz, as I never told him. It’s a chance, tho a pretty thin one. But thinking on, it’s more likely he’ll have gone to Kingston – there’d be a chance one of the others might be able to tell him where she is and he knows where Eva works. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get on the train, wander around, see what’s happening. Maybe it’ll come to nothing but it’ll be better than eating myself up like this.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

No News Good News?

I’d forgotten about the hospital what with all the carry on so I rang them this morning. I knew they wouldn’t tell me anything, as Danny and me, we’re not related, so I said I was his sister just arrived from Australia and trying to trace him. Almost got away with it too, but the receptionist or whatever she was must have gotten suspicious ‘cos she asked me to hold the line and put me through to Ms Monotone, and the next thing I know she’s saying, ‘Danny’s sister? I’m afraid we have no record of him having a sister, but if you come along to the hospital with some form of identification we may be able to help you.’ And I’m acting dumb and saying that I’m over two hours away and I’ve heard he’s left the hospital and do they have any idea where I can contact him? and she’s just repeating what she said before with her voice all smug patience and I know bloody well she knows it’s me and I’m kicking myself for trying it on as my Oz accent’s pretty rubbishy and probably gave me away. More thinking needed re. Danny I s’pose. Wish I could get my head around some half-decent plan.

One good thing though – a cheque arrived this morning – the pay I was owed from those three Saturdays at Retro Specs. I would have stayed if it hadn’t been for that Sami and her snide remarks. I s’pose I’ll have to find something else soon but at least I can stock up on bubblegum and Babe, and Marz gets paid tomorrow so we’ll be OK for a while.

Of course I was in trouble at college ‘cos of running out yesterday, but I told them Marz’d rung and I’d had to get to her quickly. They’ve known about her bouts of bingeing since she turned up there looking for me one morning and ended up passing out and cracking her head on the tiled floor in the entrance. They insisted on calling an ambulance and I had to go with her to the hospital with everyone flapping around and all the others looking and whispering. How embarrassing is that?

Must try to get some work done, I’m falling behind. Wish I didn’t care about Danny. Please let him be OK.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Close One

On edge today in case Danny rang. The odds were pretty thin but you never know. We’re s’posed to switch them off but of course I couldn’t and what happened but it rang Crazy Frog right in the middle of English. Ms Beckley had barely looked over the top of her glasses with her mouth open like a goldfish and ‘Bring that to m….’ when I was out the door and running along the corridor with my finger on the button gasping Danny, is that you and ‘Jazz, sorry Doll, it’s Pete.’

‘Pete?’ I said, ‘I don’t know any Petes, you’ve got the wrong number,’ and was just about to cut off when he said, ‘Pete, you know, Pete from the Day Centre, we had soup together,’ and 'What do you want?’ I’m saying and my stomach knotting up and me remembering I’ve had nothing since the spare ribs and chips Marz brought home last night and that I wished to hell I hadn’t eaten. And then he’s asking me to meet him and ‘No’ I’m saying, ‘I told you I had a boyfriend,’ and he’s going ‘Yeah, that crazy who went missing from the hospital,’ and ‘I might be able to help, meet me at the Centre any time today or tomorrow and don’t mind Calla, she gets jealous but I’ll keep her steady,’ and I can’t take it all in as I’m seeing the red feather boa woman all swelled up and floating on the sea and this guy Pete sitting astride and steering her with a paddle, but I say OK to shut him up and cut the mobile off and wonder if he straight up or handing me a line.

And then there’s nothing to do but go to the centre and see what he’s got to say even tho I’m thinking he can’t know a thing about Danny but what’s been in the paper but I can’t take a chance on that.

When I get there he’s sitting outside on the steps, trench coat, black knitted hat, leather gauntlets and cowboy boots same as yesterday. Probably the only stuff he’s got. Mind you I was in my puffy jacket again, but pink and silver striped tights this time tho, and my black mini instead of the pink one. He looked at me funny.

‘OK,’ I said, ‘what’s it all about?’ just wanting to find out if he knows anything and get away from there.

‘Where’re you kipping down, Doll?’ he says, ‘it must be pretty fucking good with you got up like that,’ and I’m thinking, hey, you might have my number but I’m not telling you, Mister, so I turn on him and hiss that if he doesn’t have any stuff on Danny I’m out of here. The next thing I know he’s grabbed my wrist and I’m trying to get away but he’s a big guy and strong with it. I aim a kick at his shin and jerk my arm and leg it down the street and I can hear him laughing as I run, then a woman’s voice yelling ‘FUCK OFF, YOU LITTLE SLUT.’ I’ve just gotta find Danny soon.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Soup and Feathers

I can’t go in to college until I know what’s happened to Danny. I decided to spend another day in town and if he didn’t appear I’d ring that place and ask if they had any news of him. That was when the big idea hit me. If Danny turns up he’ll be looking for me, and with nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat where would he go? Not to the police station that’s for sure, but maybe to the Day Centre for the homeless. He’s been homeless before so he knows about those places. So I asked a Big Issue seller where it was and in less time than it takes Mar to knock back a tenner’s worth of vodka I was talking to this guy serving some sort of soup from a cauldron.
‘Get in the frigging queue, sister,’ this slapper hisses at me. She’s all got up in someone’s old curtains with Doc Marten’s and a red feather boa that waves about and sticks to her lipstick so she has to keep picking at her mouth.
‘Keep your pants on,’ I tell her, I’m not here to eat.
‘Are you sure?’ she says all sly like. ‘You don’t look as tho you’ve had a decent meal in your whole bloody life.’
‘Here love,’ says this bloke ahead of her, ‘squeeze in front of me before you disappear.’
Bloody nerve. But I did anyway as there didn’t seem much chance of asking about Danny unless I got in that shitty queue. Big mistake. Nearly caused a fight that did. They say women are the worst and they’re not wrong. Everyone was yelling and the guy with the cauldron couldn’t make himself heard and then a girl came out of a door and took me off and asked what all the row was about. So I told her I was looking for someone and asked if I could leave a message on the notice board and she said OK. I had to be careful not to say too much cos Danny’s wanted but she seemed nice and said she’d point anyone asking about me to my message. And now I had a problem as I wanted to leave my mobile number and there’s nothing left on my card and I’ve no money for another. So I told this girl but she said she couldn’t really help as then she’d have to do the same for everyone but to sit down for moment and she’d be back. And then the bloke in the queue brought me over some soup and that almost started another fight with the woman in the feathers but the soup guy told her she’d have to go if she caused any more trouble so she shut up then. The soup was good – meat and potatoes and carrots and stuff and I ate it all with the bloke chatting me up but I told him I had a boyfriend and wasn’t interested and then he looked funny and got up and walked back to the slapper and I saw them talking and looking over at me. But I didn’t care because by that time the girl had come back with a Pay as You Go card from her old mobile that she’d found in her office and I was out of there. Nothing to do now but wait.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Shooting Pigeons

I hung around town all day hoping Danny’d managed to get here. I daresay he’d think to hitch a lift and there might have been time to get clear the other end before the police started looking for him. I asked at the bus and railway stations but all I got were blank looks and shrugs so I just wandered. I’d taken the camera to help pass the time and give me something to do and spent a while stalking the sick pigeons and seeing how close a shot I could get before they took off. They all seemed to have something wrong with their feet – usually they’re red and curled or maybe twisted. Some have missing toes and one had even lost a whole foot and was rolling along on a stump. I got a great photo of a pigeon sitting in the traffic lights and turning red and warm when the lights changed but I got bored after a while and started stealing shots of the homeless in shop doorways, all bundled and crouched tight against the cold. That brought Danny’s trouble back again and I kept my eyes well skinned in case I missed him while I was looking through the viewfinder. He couldn’t have missed me tho. I’d worn my pink puffy jacket with the fake-fur-trimmed hood, pink skirt and tights and pink and silver trainers. I said I liked pink and I wasn’t joking. Silver rucksack for the camera.

I reckon that if he comes here he’s looking for me, his only friend, right? So he’s not going to avoid me, even tho he wasn’t too friendly the last time I saw him. Maybe the escape was using up all his thinking and he had none to spare on me. You’d have thought he’d have mentioned it – he could have asked me for Marz address and he knows I’d wouldn’t dob him in.

Around two I had a bit of a smack in the mouth. I walked past a newsagent and picked up a paper. It seems they think Danny disappearing like that is news enough to go in the local paper – not on the front page but just inside. There was a picture of him too: Have You Seen This Man? and a short paragraph about being unstable and possibly violent and not to approach him but to dial 999. Straight up - it nearly made me sick. But it wasn’t a very good photo as it was taken a year ago and his hair's much longer now so I don’t reckon anyone will recognise him from it.

Marz had gone again by the time I got home but she’d written a note in lipstick and stuck it on the fridge. It said: DON’T EVER DARE GO IN MY PRIVATE STUFF AGAIN YOU LITTLE COW AND I WANT THAT TWENTY BACK.

I made a bacon sarnie with loads of HP then I made another one to finish off the bacon.

What can I do now but wait and keep thinking and hoping?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Thinking Day

Thinking, thinking all day long till my head hurts, but at least Marz came back. There was a trail of clothes all along the passageway and when I opened her door a crack she looked so rough I thought she was dead – two bruised eyes in a face like week-old pastry and tortured hair spread on the pillow like spaghetti. There should be a law against bleaching hair to within an inch of its life – not that she’d take any notice if there was. She hadn’t brought any food home so I went along to Naidoo’s on the corner and blew the rest of the twenty on a loaf and some milk, eggs and bacon, HP sauce, tea and coffee – what’s the point in saving it when Danny could be anywhere? Marz didn’t surface till half past four in spite of the smell of cooking bacon, and then only when I took her in a cuppa.

‘Where’ve you been,’ I said, ‘I was worried.’

She laughed like one of those bloody magpies that hang around the park opposite, but ended up coughing and had to light a fag before she could speak.

‘Who the hell’s the kid around here?’ she said, so I left her to it. There’s no sense in Marz after she’s been out drinking.

But Marz coming home doesn’t fix the problem of Danny. Where would he go? I can’t stand to think of him out in the cold with no cash and he hates talking to people so he’s not going to ask anyone for help. Would he try to find me? I don’t know. Ms Monotone said I must contact the police if he does – ‘Keep him with you and call 999,’ she said, ‘he might be dangerous.’ I laughed at that. ‘Danny’s not dangerous,’ I said, ‘never has been. And he was getting better before you lot got your hands on him again.’

She quivered and swelled a bit then and said all prim, ‘I’m not going to argue with you. His history is well documented, and I’d like to remind you that it was violence that necessitated bringing him back here. It seems he’d been neglecting to take his medication whilst at Middleton House and was hearing the voices again.’ Yeah, right, I thought, but I didn’t say it.

Instead I looked her in the eye and asked if it was quite the professional thing to be telling me this and what about patient confidentiality and all that, and before I knew it I was out of there and the nurse was marching me along the corridor. Danny, where the hell are you?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Lucky Day?

Marz didn’t come back last night. I sat at the kitchen table wondering where she was and how to get the train fare to go and see Danny, then I remembered the cake tin under her bed where she keeps things she doesn’t want me to know about. There’s never much interesting in it, usually just her vibrator and condoms, and I don’t know why she wants to keep me from seeing those. But I pulled it out anyway and tipped the lot on the duvet. I reckoned then it was my lucky day cos I found a twenty rolled up at the bottom. Lucky day? I should've known better.

There was nothing decent to eat in the place but I wasn’t going to spend it on food so I tipped some cocoa, peanut butter, syrup and some sultanas that I found in the back of the cupboard into a bowl and mixed it all up with a little hot water and cooked it in the microwave. It wasn’t half bad, but I ate too much of it and had to go and be sick again.

So there’s Jazz feeling a bit rough yet wanting to go and see Danny and wondering if she’ll make it to the station but in the end she gets into her puffy pink jacket and trainers and that seems to do the trick and she’s out the door.

It was midday by the time I’d walked from the station at the other end and I wandered about looking for him until one of the nurses grabbed me. I shook her off and gave her a mouthful but she marched me along to this office where some hard woman in a suit was trying to be busy in among a pile of papers.
‘Here she is,’ said the nurse, ‘I found her in the TV room looking for him.’
‘Ah,’ said the suit, no colour about her at all, not even lipstick to relieve the grey. Ms Monotone. ‘Please sit down young lady.’
Young lady! I mean! No one’s called me that since Mrs Parsons when I was seven. But I sat down anyway and waited to see what it was all about, wishing she’d get a move on so I could go and find Danny. I wasn’t ready for what she said though. It seems Danny disappeared sometime yesterday after tea. At first they just did a search, not too worried as Danny’s a bit elusive like, but when he couldn’t be found they called in the police to make a proper job of it. They turned the place over. No Danny. It seems someone remembered then that I was his only proper visitor and thought he might have run off to me. But not knowing who or where I was they’ve given my description to the bloody police! But, says the suit, you’re clearly no wiser than we are as to where Danny’s gone. Too right.

I was trying to think. Danny doesn’t know Mar’s address except for the town so he’d have a job finding me. Where would he go with no money or anything? They let me leave after asking a load of questions and taking my address – I made that up though, just in case Danny finds me and I need to keep him out of their way. What the hell am I going to do now?

Friday, December 02, 2005


Woke too soon and left a dream with hands that supported me in the warm air, somewhere high above everything, my own hands cupping something fragile and only half guessed at – a blackbird’s egg or a tiny baby no bigger than a thumb, like the rabbit foetus I found once, silvery grey with sealed eyes and the veins mapping its surface in some sort of strange blueprint. I can’t remember much about the dream except that I knew I was precious and that the hands cared about me as I cared about the creature I was holding. I've always believed that each dream has a meaning but I couldn't figure out what this one meant and I must have fallen asleep again because when I woke for the second time it was light and the alarm hadn’t gone off and she’d left for work. I felt so tired, as if I was jet-lagged – not that I know what that’s like as I’ve only ever been to Spain but I can imagine it. I crawled out of bed to get ready for college but began to shake and barely made it to the loo to be sick. No, it’s not what you’re thinking. I can’t be pregnant – don’t ask how I know, I just do that’s all. I don’t drink so it wasn’t that either. I’ve been sleeping nearly all day and my skin is red and sore at the knees and hips where my bones rested on the mattress. I’m not too thin though – not as thin as Danny, but then he’s tall and that makes him look thinner than he is. If I feel better tomorrow I’ll go and see him again – get the train fare somehow. I mustn’t let his apathy and silence push me away – he needs someone and I’m all he’s got.

It’s after nine and she’s not back yet. I try not to think of what she’s doing or who she’s with. I know she’s old enough to look after herself but there are weirdos out there and she always seems to find them. Maybe she’ll bring some food back, but I’m not hungry and anyway it would only make me sick again.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Time Out

I didn’t go in to college today. There wouldn’t have been much point as I can’t seem to concentrate – keep thinking about Danny and wondering when I’ll get to see him again and if he’ll talk to me next time. Things were good between us once but that seems a long time ago now – everything’s different since Middleton. I stayed in my room most of the day, photographing the dolls, making them interact with one another. It’s weird how their personalities seem to alter when you change their clothes. I took the doll I call Elvira who’s tall and thin and coffee-coloured and cut and thinned her long hair to a frizzled mop, painted her red lips a natural brownish pink and her brown irises black. I don’t know why I did that but when I’d finished it was like a smack in the mouth how like Danny she looked. I took off her red spotted dress and found some black trousers and a sweater that belonged to Justin, sat her in a makeshift chair with her long legs spread the way he sits, low down on the seat and staring at the ceiling, arms flopped over the sides, hands hanging like dead wings. Then I set the camera up and took some pictures from different angles, went and got Jazz (my special doll who looks like me) and put them together like we used to be, took some more, used up the roll. I need to get a digital camera for stuff like this as it’s getting expensive with all this developing, but you need a decent camera for the longer range stuff like people if you want them natural and unaware that someone’s stealing their image, and of course the special work. Maybe I could learn to do it myself – the developing that is – take an evening class or something.

When it got dark I went out to look for the little hedgehog but couldn’t find him. Under a streetlight a man and a woman – she blonde and middle-aged in a long pale coat with a fake fur collar. He had his back to me but was all bulky baldness shining in the orange light, his long hair tied in a grey ponytail at the back of his neck. Funny how men who’re losing their hair on top grow it long everywhere they can. Close they were like plotters talking low but they lapsed into silence as I walked past. I’d have liked to get a good look at them just in case they’re in the news later for murdering her husband or his wife but their eyes were pushing me off and I kept mine straight ahead.

Danny, Danny, Danny. I repeated his name all the way home in time with my footsteps until it became Edan, Edan, Edan. Eden, the garden of. Danny’s not Eden or paradise, I know that, but how I want him back as he was before.